CC Notes – November 20th 2017
All Commissioners were in attendance for the November meeting of the Cumberland County Commission except Nancy Hyder. The resolutions for the evening began with an issue first addressed in October concerning the Breckenridge #2 Dam.
As was discussed last month, the County has been contesting the assessment of a $500 fee by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for a dam inspection in Breckenridge. The county’s contention was that the dam didn’t meet the criteria to be a dam that required inspection. The county lost the argument and has therefore been assessed the fee, penalties, and interest in the amount of $3,536.29. The Commission tabled the issue last month until the Environmental Committee could hold a meeting with all parties involved, including TDEC. The meeting proved to be very informative. J.H. Graham, III conveyed the dam to Cumberland County via quit-claim deed in 2001. In February of 2016, the County Attorney acknowledged the quit-claim deed and the county’s ownership. After this, the County and TDEC went back and forth concerning liability of the dam fees. The County Attorney’s position was that the county owned the road but is not liable for the dam. In the end, TDEC issued an order including the fees previously discussed. The order was not appealed. That is what led to the issue arriving at the meeting last month.
Commissioner Tom Isham started looking in to the issue and found that there is no record of the Cumberland County Commission actually accepting the quit-claim deed, which would mean the County doesn’t even own the dam in question. After much discussion with the TDEC representative, I asked what our options were at this time. She agreed to ask her boss to halt the penalties being accrued until after Thanksgiving, giving us the time to file a formal appeal with the Attorney General’s Office.
The full Commission passed a resolution denying ownership of the dam 16-1 with Commissioner Terry Lowe voting against. Later in the evening a resolution was passed to reject the quit-claim deed and have it officially filed. This also passed 16-1 with Commissioner Lowe voting against.
Building a new school at Crab Orchard, and doing renovation work at CCHS was approved unanimously during the last budget process. The last piece of the funding portion of the projects is to authorize the General Obligation School Bonds for the project, not to exceed $12,625,000. A resolution was presented to issue the bonds after being approved by the Debt Service Committee. The resolution was passed unanimously.
The Debt Service and Budget Committees both approved of using $925,000 from the Debt Service Fund Balance to pay off a high interest bond on the Plateau Partnership Park. This money will retire a debt currently costing the county 6 percent in interest and will save in excess of $200,000. The vote to approve was unanimous.
Approval was granted for $53,174 for the local Health Department. This money is a 100% grant from the State Tobacco Settlement and is used to promote tobacco prevention and cessation. The Sheriff’s Department requested to use $3,212 for technology improvements for the department’s firewall. The money will come from the technology fund. The General Purpose School Fund was reimbursed $98,971.55 from Cumberland County for fuel for the first quarter of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Another amendment in the amount of $3,596.50 was approved to accept donations made to the school system. The Fairfield Glade Ladies Club, the Dogwood Exchange, First Christian Church, TAP Publishing, the Tennessee 4-H Foundation, and the Cumberland County Fair Association have donated money to assist with school supplies, the Shoe Fund, science fair awards, and health services in Cumberland County Schools. All of these budget amendments were approved unanimously.
Cliff Wightman was unanimously appointed to the Industrial Development Corporation Board of Cumberland County-Crossville for a term that expires April 30, 2019. Patrick Garrison and Mike Harvel were approved as members on the Wildlife and Fisheries’ Committee for four year terms in a 16-1 vote with Commissioner David Gibson voting against.
Approval was also granted for the Broadband Ready Communities Ordinance. Broadband internet availability is of critical importance to all people in the county. Cumberland County is looking to promote private investment in the broadband infrastructure and is seeking to be designated as a Broadband Ready Community. This resolution creates that process and will hopefully lead to more broadband access for our community in the future.
The final resolution of the night was the authorization allowing the County Mayor to execute the building agreement between Focus On Cumberland County Animal Shelter, Inc., or FOCCAS, and Cumberland County. About two years ago, the Budget and Building and Grounds Committees were approached about the need for a new animal shelter by both County employees and private citizens. The need was evident in that the existing building was in terrible shape, so the Budget Committee found funding for the project and the full Commission approved it. The building was to be a new Adoption Center for the animals housed at the facility. During this process FOCCAS began working with the County to provide the funds for a new intake facility. The process was not always a smooth one, but in the end it seems middle ground has been found to help provide for the welfare of the animals. I am happy to have played a part, along with many others, in helping both sides to come together during this process. This is an excellent example of how government and private citizens can work together. The resolution was passed 16-1 with Commissioner Tracey Scarbrough voting against.
Local option sales tax collections for the BOE were $779,000 which is down $26,000 against the $806,000 budget. Collections year to date are still below budget by $82,000. We need a good Christmas to help us rebound. Estimated property tax collections are 17.6 percent which compares favorably to last year. Hotel/Motel tax collections year to date are $281,000 against an annual budget of $810,000 which is ahead of last year. It was noted last month that the Budget Committee asked the Trustee to come and talk to us about this tax as we needed more information about how the process works and were curious why August receipts were down with the eclipse occurring. We found out during that meeting that one account paid just under $8,000 a bit late, which made the new total for the month make much more sense. EMS collections were only $288,000 for the month which is $36,000 below budget and down $111,000 year to date. Prisoner Boarding from the State still stands at $111,000 against a budget of $525,000, or 21.1 percent of budget.
Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for allowing me to serve the 4th District and Cumberland County. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at any time.
Board of Commissioners
4th District Representative